Skip to main content

WVU LaunchLab Network hosts third annual March Idea Challenge

Three male students and one female stand together with a winner's certificate
ICONIC EDU founders and Statler College students win first place at the 2019 March Idea Challenge Competition. From left to right: Kyle Gillis, James Carnes and Alan Brocktman.

The West Virginia University’s LaunchLab Network hosted the third annual March Idea Challenge Wednesday (March 27), lauding Statler College students James Carnes, Kyle Gillis and Alan Brockman for pitching their company, ICONIC EDU, as the winning team after four contested rounds of competition. As the eighth pitch competition of the academic year, these events are designed to hone the students’ skills to help them successfully promote their innovative ideas or products to investors, while also advancing their concept, business or invention. 

ICONIC EDU is no stranger to competitions or to receiving funding to continue to develop and further their business. Their company, which offers STEM learning kits to bring modern technology into the classroom free of charge, have competed across the country to develop and grow their business model. 

Applicants across the university submitted 90-second videos to enter the March Idea Challenge, while only eight individuals or teams were selected to pitch their ideas, business venture or invention to a panel of judges in front of an overflowing room of attendees. The top eight contestants presented 5-minute pitches. Judges narrowed down the contest to the top four, who delivered 2-minute pitches and received $250 each. The top two contestants were then selected and received $500 each. They competed in a head to head showdown for the grand prize of $1,000.  

Huntington Bank sponsored the cash rewards, working alongside the IDEA Hub to advance innovation throughout the state.  

“The LaunchLab Network works with students across all disciplines every day to help conceptualize and cultivate innovative ideas, invent new products and develop business plans,” said Carrie White, assistant vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation, and Nora Myers, director of the Beckley LaunchLab, respectively. “Not only do we encourage students to think creatively and problem solve, but we also want to make sure they can promote and sell their ideas to investors. These pitch competitions offer students a safe haven to build confidence while also developing the skillset necessary to pitch their ideas to real world investors or businesses.” 

Judges included:

·      Cory Dennison, president, Vision Shared

·      Todd Latch, financial advisor, Huntington Bank

·      Jonathan Ohlinger, founder and CEO, VEEPIO

·      Scott Turner, sales executive, Autodesk

March Idea Challenge student competitors: 

·      Alan Brockman, James Carnes and Kyle Gillis – ICONIC EDU LLC – Statler College

·      Andrew Rhodes – The Neighborhood Kombuchery – Statler College

·      Rob Simmons – Reel Agency – Reed College of Media

·      Alex Fisher – College Cooks – John Chambers College of Business and Economics

·      Hailey Frail – Feminine Lab Coat – Eberly College

·      Alexander Irwin – Grain Thief Replacement – Davis College

·      Keegan Mueller – Cone Buddy – Statler College

·      Micah Stacy – The Eldritch Society – Beckley LaunchLab 

The LaunchLab Network is part of the WVU IDEA Hub and serves as the comprehensive, one-stop shop to help students develop and commercialize their ideas, innovations, inventions or business models.

The WVU IDEA Hub is a university-wide network of centers, offices and programs that fosters and supports innovation and entrepreneurship among WVU students, faculty and staff while engaging the statewide community. By showcasing the vast network of resources and opportunities across the University, the IDEA Hub elevates an integrated web of WVU’S entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators who are applying entrepreneurship and innovation to solve problems and embrace change toward more innovation, growth and resiliency across West Virginia.